I first heard from David Layton back in 2012, when he reached out to me through my Amsel Appreciation site. Layton is a successful illustrator, graphic designer, and avid fan of all things movies and Amsel...so when we finally met in person last March to discuss the film, it wasn't exactly difficult for us to hold a colorful conversation.
Yet there's also a personal connection behind Layton's interest in Richard Amsel. Layton was involved in a two year relationship with one of Amsel's close friends, the late entertainer John C. Attle -- whom Amsel created two posters for, including 1973's "Downstairs at the Upstairs".
Layton recalled that, back in 1985, Attle had arranged to introduce him to Richard Amsel -- a prospect that he was greatly looking forward to. Amsel's work for TV GUIDE, and portrait of Judy Garland for A STAR IS BORN, made him Layton's personal favorite artist. Amsel's illustrative style also greatly influenced Layton's own work over the years.
But the meeting was not to be, due to Amsel's deteriorating health. He died soon after. Tragically, Attle also succumbed to AIDS a few years later.
I asked Layton how many friends he lost from that time.
"All of them," he answered.
It was a solemn moment in an otherwise lively, jovial interview, which we filmed in Layton's beautifully designed mid-Century home. Vintage oversized movie posters and models (including a reproduction model from "2001" I couldn't take my eyes off of) donned the living room...as well as an original animation sketch from SNOW WHITE. I'm sure Richard Amsel would have drooled over it.
Very special thanks to David Layton for his time and cooperation.